Results tagged “Lotto” from spare cycles

Note: travel/vacation day, limited coverage

It was an amazing finish with all three of the top riders delivering the time trials of their careers. Levi Leipheimer, who's ridden near the top but never ahead this Tour, started almost a minute behind Cadel Evans. Levi delivered a smashing time trial, winning the stage and having us audience members thinking that he might have closed the gap with Evans. Evans rode strong over the final distance, pulling on the handlebars in the final straight to just save his second place podium spot. Alberto Contador, climber not time trialer, saved his yellow jersery and held off both Evans and Leipheimer.

Discovery Channel had an amazing day with Lance in attendance. They finished 1-4-5-7 on the stage and will head into the final Paris stage tomorrow in 1-3 overall. Levi will start 8" behind Evans, so the final standings are not settled yet. Contador has a 23" lead and should be able to cruise to the top podium spot tomorrow.

Preview links:

An amazing sprint by Robbie McEwen for the win. McEwen had got caught up in a crash with 20km to go and had to spend the next 15km chasing back with the help of his teammates. McEwen was nowhere to be seen as Quick Step lead the peloton towards the last mile. Milram took over the sprint from Quick Step and had two riders to leadout Zabel. Boonen glued himself to Zabel's wheel, but they quickly found their leadout swamped as Robbie Hunter stirred things up. Hunter jumped early to the right with Discovery's Vaitkus just behind. Hunter ran out of gas and sat up just as McEwen accelerated out of nowhere around the outside of the pack and shot past ten+ riders. Boonen tried to catch McEwen's wheel but McEwen was accelerating too fast -- McEwen by at least a bike length (Steephill.tv video stills). Hushovd was able to jump off Boonen's wheel to take second.

McEwen fans will worry that this is his last of this year's Tour as McEwen's wrist is questionable: "When it happens you're not really thinking too much about it, you get back on your bike, you don't feel anything..But now I'm starting to feel the pain, in my hand, my wrist and my knee. It was a great day for me, but now I'm starting to get a bit worried for the rest of the Tour."

Today's race started across the famous London Tower Bridge. The early story was all about David Millar, who wanted to put on a show while the race was still on his soil. He helped launched an early break and then managed to drop the rest of the riders. He was eventually chased down by four riders from that break: Auge (Cofidis), Kuschynski (Liquigas), Grivoko (Milram), and Bichot (Agritubel). The break extended its lead to over 6 minutes with 90k to go. Along the way Millar picked up two early intermediate sprints, but it wasn't the green jersey he was going for: he was thinking of polka dots.

At first it wasn't clear what Millar was shooting for and I'm not sure he did either: "So today I thought, ‘You know what, I'm just going to go on a suicide mission.' And it ended up being productive, which is a real bonus." Millar didn't bother contesting the Goudhurst Hill KOM. Bichot put in an attack early up the climb-- it looked like he mistimed it as he was caught by Kuschynski, but the Cat 4 climb was longer than Kuschynski thought and Bichot was able to pass again. Millar's plan to take the KOM seemed to hatch once he got caught by the peloton after he was dropped from the break. Correction: According to Millar, "...I decided to radio behind and get my team riding and drop back to the peloton. I was not sure if I could hold my lead in the last KOM and it was 26 km away and we had 2minutes 20seconds. So I decided it would be best to shut the break down and get points after having a rest in the bunch."

Saunier Duval sent some riders to the front to reel in the rest of the break before the final KOM. Auge was the last of the break to stay off the front and managed to survive until the Farthing Common KOM to briefly move into the polka dot jersey. Millar was able to retake the lead by taking second in the KOM while the rest of the peloton was busy reorganizing itself due to the McEwen/etc crash.

McEwen's and Cavendish's troubles made things a bit more interesting for the sprint. Lotto had to organize a chaseback for McEwen and were joined by about 20 other riders. Cavendish appeared caught out by himself and looked very angry as he endured wheel changes then a bike change. Cavendish ended up losing 3:37. This left just Quick Step and Lampre to drive the peloton towards the finish.

Argritubel's Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez was the first abandon of the Tour, apparently due to a crash. There were several crashes today. Lancaster (Milram), Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne), and Mercado (Agritubel) were among riders who crashed into a road island. There was also the big crash that put McEwen and Cavendish (T-Mobile) into trouble.

Links:

Course profile, Versus predictions, my predictions after the jump.

Stage 4: Huy - Saint-Quentin

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McEwen got his second win on a relatively calm day for the peloton. The weather was slightly cooler and the Tour ended its road trip through the classics, leaving Belgium and entering France for good. McEwen made the win look easy, winning by at least five bike lengths. There was a bit of chaos in the final sprint as Hushovd's leadout man crashed, but Hushovd had already grabbed another wheel and the rest of the sprinters made it around on the uphill finish without any problem. Hushovd's arm must be feeling fairly good as he was able to hold the fourth spot ahead of Boonen. Zabel didn't get to compete in this sprint as he got a flat tire in the final kilometers.

As a result of the sprint, McEwen moves into the green jersey and 6th overall at 0.12 back. Boonen gets to hold onto his one second lead in the yellow jersey for at least one more day. The KOM jersey stays on Pineau's shoulders as he won the first KOM sprint on the day over the other KOM contenders.

Discovery put Egoi Martinez into the main breakaway on the day and Martinez was able to rack up 18-seconds worth of time bonuses through the three sprint points, leapfrogging him into fifth overall. Discovery now has the 3rd, 5th, and 7th position overall. So, to update my analysis from last night, Discovery is in a really, really strong position right now. Bruyneel will have a lot of cards to play if his riders do well in the time trial.

It nearly looked like the breakaway might succeed as none of the sprint teams were coming forward in the final kilometers to lead the charge, but with about 4k to go the pace really picked up and the remainder of the break was caught with 2k to go.

Prediction check: * My prediction: Boonen first, McEwen second * Actual: McEwen first, Boonen fifth (will I learn?)

Stage 2: Obernai - Esch-sur-Alzette

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McEwen took the stage win as the field frantically tried to catch a late breakaway by T-Mobile rider Mattias Kessler. There was a crash in the peloton with 2km to go that threw things in the field into chaos and it seemed that Kessler would be able to hold them off, but with 250m to go the field finally caught him and Robbie McEwen charged up through to take the win.

Thor Hushovd should be very happy even though he lost the sprint and pulled his foot out of his pedal in the process -- the time bonuses he picked up earlier in the day were more than enough to take the yellow jersey back from Hincapie. Hincapie did his best to stay up front on the wheels of the sprinters, but either he didn't have the legs to compete with the sprint specialists or he was choosing wisely not to get so involved in such risky business. It's probably the latter, especially with the many sprint stages left before the first time trial.

The long break on the day was by Hernandez and de la Fuente, who fought back and forth at the various KOM points along the route. Hernandez eventually cracked, which left de la Fuente in the position to take the KOM jersey away from Fabian Wegmann. Wegmann bridged up to De la Fuente at the end to take back some points, but de la Fuente racked up enough points to stay two points ahead of Wegmann.

The coming sprint stages should be very interesting with Hushovd in first, Boonen in second, and McEwen in third. There's a lot of incentive to take every little time bonus; Boonen will be racing to get that yellow jersey by the time the route hits Belgium and McEwen may be wanting another yellow to go with his greens.

Prediction check: * Prediction: Boonen first, McEwen second * Result: McEwen first, Boonen second

Stage 7: Luneville-Karlsruhe

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keyhole.stage7.jpgMcEwen x 2

The finish line was in Karlsruhe, Germany, and the German rider Wegmann made a breakaway that lasted for about 150k on the long stage, but the peloton lazily pulled him back for the sprint at the end.

It was a messy sprint finish as it was a wide open boulevard finish with multiple sprint teams fighting for control. No team was strong enough to hold the leadout and there was a crash in the final sprint. Boonen couldn't find a wheel and McEwen sprinted up the side barrier to take the win.